Game 6: Boston College at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (3-2) vs. Boston College (4-2)
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: Wednesday, December 2nd, 7:30 PM
: ESPN2 /
Stats: Live Tempo Free Stats
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM, 102.9 FM
Sirius Ch. 127 / XM Ch. 193
Line: Michigan by 7.5


This one feels far too important for a December game but it’s hard to downplay the importance of tonight’s game versus Boston College.

The last match-up between these two teams was only two years ago. Boston College marched into Crisler Arena for the only 7th game of John Beilein’s tenure in Ann Arbor. Michigan wasn’t supposed to be good and was coming off a disappointing stretch of games in Alaska, but that 13 point home loss to the Eagles set the tone for the season.

tyrese-riceMichigan fans will be glad to know that Tyrese Rice graduated last year

Tyrese Rice scorched the Wolverines, scoring 28 points (thanks to a 67% eFG%) and adding 8 rebounds and 5 assists for good measure. Meanwhile, the Maize Rage peppered him with “BUM BUM BUM” chants. Oops.

Luckily, Tyrese Rice is gone and both programs look significantly different today. That’s not to say there aren’t enough familiar faces to remember the last meeting between these two teams. Rakim Sanders (injured), Tyler Roche, and Corey Raji all played significant roles in the last meeting while Joe Trapani nearly transferred to Michigan and starting center Josh Southern is a Saginaw native.

It’s still a bit early to look at KenPom data but Boston College’s statistical profile appears to be taking shape.  The Eagles have been strong on offense, scoring 1.17 points per possession. They have shot the ball well (52.5% eFG), held onto it (18.3 TO%), and crashed the glass with an impressive 43.4% offensive rebounding percentage. The major concern for Michigan is that not only can the Eagles shoot the ball (75% of their shots come inside the arc), they crash the glass very well. The bad news for Michigan is that their glaring weaknesses on defense, two point defense and defensive rebounding, correlate with Boston College’s strengths.

Boston College is much less formidable on the defensive side of the ball. The strongest elements of their defense are defensive rebounding and keeping opponents off the free throw line. There are a couple bright spots for Michigan. First, they shouldn’t have much trouble holding onto the ball, the Eagles force fewer turnovers than any high major program in the country. Second, Boston College has struggled to defend the three point shot, allowing opponents to shoot 36.4% from behind the arc.

joe trapani Joe Trapani, Boston College’s leading scorer has been battling the flu

Boston College’s biggest problem is their growing injury list. Joe Trapani is still recovering from the flu, leading returning scorer Rakim Sanders is sidelined with a high ankle sprain, and Tyler Roche is questionable with a back injury.

It appears that Trapani (15.8 ppg and 7.5 rpg) is going to give it a go and play. He is the go to guy for the Eagles and a threat to post a double double on any night. His supporting cast is highlighted by a pair of wings; Reggie Jackson (14.5ppg, 8rpg, 5apg) and Corey Raji (14.5ppg, 8rpg, 5apg). The man in the middle is Saginaw product Josh Southern who has developed into a nice player, averaging 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

The names on the jerseys don’t really matter with Al Skinner. You can count on a well coached team that knows how to execute Al Skinner’s compressed flex offense to perfection. Boston College struggled in their preseason tournament, losing to St Joseph’s and Northern Iowa but I expect them to be ready to play tonight. That means that Michigan is in for a challenge.

If Michigan doesn’t improve significantly on defense and start to hit some shots, they could be looking at a three game losing streak.

Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge is all squared up at 3 going into Wednesday’s games.  The other four games tomorrow night include Duke/Wisconsin, FSU/OSU, Illinois/Clemson, and Miami/Minnesota. Needing three wins to take the Challenge, it appears that Michigan, Ohio State, and Minnesota are the best bets for the Big Ten’s first victory.

Pre-game Reading

This site is supported by donations

Like what you see? Click the button below to donate and access exclusive content.

  • Ken in LV you are right on with your comments. Looks like we will have to worry about every game for the next two years.

    I wonder if any insiders know the real truth about Manny’s leg injury. I believe it’s affecting his shot. Watch the way he leans back and kicks his legs out. He does not jump straight up on 3’s.

    What’s wrong with Sims? family problems, person problems, taking something? He doesn’t look like the old strong, aggressive Sims.

  • Tom, Too.

    When we win, it seems like the system works (1-3-1, lots of threes, and poor rebounding), but when we lose it seems like the system has to work perfectly to get a w. If you play like Michigan State or West Virginia, those teams seem to be able to eeeck out wins even when things don’t go perfectly for them. They seems to out muscle you, defend you and power you to wins even if the jumpers are not falling and everyone seems to be off. With JB’s system, if the shots are not falling, they will lose.

  • AC

    Don’t misunderstand – this hasn’t gone well at all, and it’s nothing to be happy about. There are also, I admit, few reasons to feel optimistic.

    That being said, there’s tons of basketball to be played. Remember that we’re running with a freshman at the 1. If we rally and beat either Kansas or UConn and do well in the season, we’ll get into the tournament just as much as if we were undefeated right now.

    As a guy who was in the student section for the last two seasons of Tommy and who endured the 10 win year before finally getting sweet satisfaction last season, I understand everybody’s disappointment, but push on. The team will too.

  • TomAce

    Just have to get this out there…

    Guess the Wolverine:
    Stat line: 3 for 11 FG (27%) for 9 pts, 3 Reb, in 35 minutes.
    More minutes than anyone except Manny, who also had 35. You guessed it, Novak. I think Beilein is still infatuated with Novak hustle.

    Hey I like him a lot, but Gibson didn’t even get back in until the 8 minute mark in the 2nd half, and he was playing maybe better than anyone.

    I know, just one more problem on the pile of problems.

  • Nate

    What about this move? i believe this happened beg of the year last year if im not mistaken.

    Since gibson is playing really well right now and beilien needs to somehow make sims to start making layups..missed 2 that i saw again last night. Mr Beilein should start gibson and bring sims off the bench at least for the next game to knock some sense into sims. He would also provide that spark off the bench that gibson has but it would be a lot bigger of a spark if he makes layups haha